Ag Weather Forum

A Taste of Winter Ahead

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Conditions are promising for snow in the Plains through Oct 23. Accumulating snow is possible. (DTN graphic)

Widespread dry conditions over the past week brought notable harvest progress. Corn harvest jumped 16 percentage points to 41 percent complete and is now 9 points above the five-year average. Eastern Midwest states are still slightly behind the average pace. Soybean harvest advanced 23 percentage points to 61 percent complete, 19 points ahead of average. Progress was slowest in the Delta due to heavy rain from Hurricane Delta.

The time period going into the last half of October does show a big change, especially over the Northern and western Plains. An upper level trough moving into the central U.S. during mid-October will receive multiple reinforcements through the weekend of October 23-25. The reinforcing shots of cold air from Canada will come with storm systems as well. The combination of below-normal temperatures and precipitation brings snow into the picture. Multiple periods of accumulating snowfall are possible through Thursday, October 23. The Northern Plains and northwest Midwest have prospects for accumulating snow as early as the October 16-18 weekend, while could spread as far south as the central Plains during the October 19-24 week.

Exact snowfall amounts over the next 10 days is uncertain. Forecast models differ largely on whether storm systems will move quickly across the north-central U.S. and bring light snow amounts, or whether storm systems will slow down and result in heavier snow totals. The European model is much more aggressive with setting up a stalled frontal boundary from the Central Plains into the western Midwest next week, producing more snowfall. The U.S. model, in contrast, is much flatter with the systems moving through next week and limits snowfall closer to the international border with lower amounts.

In either model solution, there is a risk of accumulating snow as far south as northwest Kansas through east-central Colorado. Accumulating snow would cause row crop harvest disruption while also offering some possible moisture for dry Plains winter wheat areas.

John Baranick can be reached at

DTN Ag Meteorologist


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